Many of us know that stress has been linked to many illnesses. Our minds perceive stressful situations and send information to our bodies. The information is sent in the form of hormones along a communication pathway called the hypothalamic pituitary axis. In other words stress can wreak physiological havoc on our bodies.
One recent study has linked stress to depression. Researchers from Yale School of Medicine used mice to study the effects of stress on an area of the brain known as the hippocampus. The hippocampus is important in encoding information for storage in memory as well as retrieving spacial information about the world around us.
Stress has an adverse effect on the hippocampus. The effects stem from the production of a signaling molecule called IL-1B. This molecule facilitates inflammation and is increased with stress with the end result of inhibiting the cell cycle and not allowing new nerve cells to form. When the IL-1B receptors were stimulated, the mice refused a pleasurable stimulus in the form of a sweetened drink. This is analogous to humans suffering from depression and avoiding pleasure.
The research has important implications in studying psychiatric disorders resulting from the effects of stress.
Once again the mind-body connection is supported by research. Your thoughts have a powerful physiological effect on your body.